Best Sex Writing 2013: The State of Today's Sexual Culture

BOOK: Best Sex Writing 2013: The State of Today's Sexual Culture
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best sex writing

2013

The State of Today’s Sexual Culture

Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Guest Judge Carol Queen, PhD

Copyright © 2013 by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Foreword copyright © 2013 by Carol Queen.

All rights reserved. Except for brief passages quoted in newspaper, magazine, radio, television, or online reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Published in the United States by Cleis Press, Inc., 2246 Sixth Street, Berkeley, California 94710.

Printed in the United States. Cover design: Scott Idleman/Blink

Cover photograph: Thinkstock Images Text design: Frank Wiedemann

First Edition.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Trade paper ISBN: 978-1-57344-899-4 E-book ISBN: 978-1-57344-916-8

Permissions acknowledgments for the essays reprinted in this book may be found on page 229.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Best sex writing 2013 / edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel.

pages cm

Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-57344-899-4 (pbk. : alk. paper)

1. Sex--United States. I. Bussel, Rachel Kramer.

HQ18.U5B45 2013 306.70973--dc23

2013002069

Con T enTS

vii Foreword
• C
arol
Q
ueen
, P
h
D

xi Introduction: A Different Kind of Sexual Education

1 Live Nude Models
• J
onathan
l
ethem

10 Can a Better Vibrator Inspire an Age of Great American Sex?
• a
nDy
I
saaCson

31 Sex by Numbers
• r
aChel
s
wan

44 Very Legal: Sex and Love in Retirement
• a
lex
m
orrIs

53 Notes from a Unicorn
• s
eth
F
IsCher

65 Rest Stop Confidential
• C
onner
h
abIb

70 When on Fire Island… A Polyamorous Disaster
• n
ICholas
G
arnett

78 Cherry Picking
• J
ulIa
s
erano

86 Holy Fuck:The Fourth-and-Long Virgin
• J
on
P
ressICk

93 Baby Talk
• r
aChel
k
ramer
b
ussel

98 Dear John
• l
orI
s
elke

106 Sex by Any Other Name
• I
nsIya
a
nsarI

116 Enhancing Masochism: How to Expand Limits and Increase Desire
• P
atrICk
C
alIFIa

137 Submissive: A Personal Manifesto
• m
aDIson
y
ounG

147 Ghosts: All My Men Are Dead
• C
arol
Q
ueen

158 Happy Hookers
• m
elIssa
G
Ira
G
rant

164 Christian Conservatives vs. Sex:The Long War Over Reproductive Freedom
• r
ob
b
oston

175 Porn Defends the Money Shot
• D
ennIs
r
omero

192 Lost Boys
• k
rIsten
h
Inman

212 The Original Blonde
• n
eal
G
abler

223 About the Authors 227 About the Editors

Foreword

Car ol Queen, PhD

If you need any indication beyond that provided by particle physics that we occupy a world containing more than one dimen- sion, look no further than contemporary Western discourse on sex. In the United States, especially, the time/space continuum points toward a diverse future—how are sexual cultures devel- oping and transitioning into twenty-first-century entities? How is a changed, expanded landscape of sexual communities and erotic choices, facilitated by the gods of the Internet, altering the path of growing up, finding oneself, decoding all our culture’s mysterious sex signals, meeting and mating and doing it some more? Plenty of contributors in
Best Sex Writing 2013
shed light, or at least drop crumbs, to help as we consider this.

And yet! On the other hand, the Scarecrow’s arms are crossed and he simultaneously points forward and back. This way! That way! And people who have been influenced by way-post-sexual-

Best s ex Writing 2013

revolution, feminist, and sex-positive ideas now watch with amazement as linear time morphs, shimmers and wiggles like the suddenly-visible air above a blacktop road on a hot summer day, and serious political discourse includes ideas about gender roles, contraception, homosexuality, abortion, and censorship that made me, at least, wonder whether Anthony Comstock might return from the dead to join the Republican presidential ticket. Paul Ryan: a reanimate?

I’m associated with sex education, pleasure activism, erotic diversity and sex-positivity; there have been loads of interesting progress on all these fronts over the past couple of decades, as the many ways one can experience or desire sex and relation- ship have shattered, scintillating into a spectrum of identities and communities. All of these, except maybe Furries, have always been part of the private, even secret, landscape of erotic drive, choice, or chance: our great-great grandmas had vibrators, artists documented their own and their lovers’ erotic bodies in the 1920s (and certainly before), Samuel Steward let Alfred Kinsey set him up with an SM dominant in 1952, and Virginia Woolf had more than one partner and wrote a gender-bending novel about one of them. There’s next to nothing new under the sun, sex-wise—but now pretty much all these identities, the ways we learn about pos- sibility and are affirmed in our desires (or at least find porn that reflects it or partners willing to engage in it), have stepped into the light of day, into Google searches and Facebook groups.

At the same time, it’s yesterday once more. Haters hate, bullies bully, and young people kill themselves because they can’t believe a future full of love and pleasure waits for them. That’s really no surprise; it’s way easier to fill a conference hall with thousands of kinky people than it is to get a public school to represent sexu- ality as something other than a danger, especially sexuality that

carol queen

is non-heteronormative. Actually, too many young people get no message at all that alternative sexualities exist
and
that they might have something to do with them. And you can be as heteronor- mative as you please and get out of high school not understanding anything about the clitoris.

A society fixated on and yet fearful about sex exists today as surely as it did in my mother’s time, and then as now it enables sexual abuse, erotic cluelessness, us-and-them belief systems. If anything, the latter is worse now than it was in the longer-ago past, because my mom and dad weren’t even sure, in the 1940s, what a homosexual was—now, alongside all the amazing gains that have been made, this culture is polarized over sexuality from stem to stern.

But that’s not the half of it. Here in the twenty-first century, land of progress, my specialized Google News search (set to “sex- uality”—isn’t yours?) brings me mostly LGBT results. Is it so little understood that
everyone
has a sexuality? That it can be as diverse with varying desires among heteros as among queers? That sexual
orientation
is not, in fact, the definition of sexuality; that knowing someone’s sexual orientation does not give you a true idea of that person’s sexuality, their
sexual
preferences, only really revealing the gender/s of the person/s with whom they’d like to engage in that sex? Gay, straight and everybody else: any of us can be vanilla or kinky, monogamous or polyamorous or open, fetishistic (in a thousand different ways), into the person and not the gender, into no one but gender variants, even asexual and into no one at all. (At least, not
that way
.) We can have safer sex or bareback; we can feel more erotically alive in a costume than we do out of it; we can charge money or fuck for free; we can be shy or brazen, exhibitionistic or private, only in it for love or only in it for the orgasm. And of course we can be many of these things at once,

or morph fluidly (or very bumpily) from one identity or set of desires to another.

Really, there are more than seven billion sexual orientations. If the turn-back-the-clockers understood how really, truly di- verse sexuality is, some of their heads would explode, and maybe the rest would leave their target populations alone and stow the opprobrium—about sex, at least. It makes a bigger sexual world for them, too, of course, not just those of us already identified as Other. The irony of this vast rend in the cultural fabric is the way more information feeds both sides: fear and loathing or excite- ment and relief, we have in common this range of reactions to a very big and sexy cat who has well and truly escaped its bag.

We can’t do justice to all of this in one volume, but we can pack
Best Sex Writing 2013
with the best essays and journalism we can find, reminding you how much variety, difference and drama can be found when we till the ground of desire. I hope this inspires you to take your own sexual reality seriously, and to con- sider in what ways you’re unique—and how surprisingly well you may relate to the stories of those very different from yourself. It’s the only way we’ll bridge this gap, heal the rift in the space/time continuum of sex: really listening to the stories we all have to tell.

Introduction: A Different Kind of Sexual education

As editor of the
Best Sex Writing
series, and a writer about sex in both fiction and nonfiction forms, I’m privileged to hear from lots of people about sexuality, whether asking for advice or wanting to talk about the big issues of the day, whether that means at- tacks on birth control or
Fifty Shades of Grey
. The biggest thing I’ve learned, though, is pretty basic: we are all always learning. You can indeed get a PhD in sexology, like foreword author and contributor Carol Queen did, but that doesn’t mean you simply give up and assume you know everything about the wide world of sexuality and sexual variation. You can’t; it’s impossible.

Part of why sex writing is so vital is because we all have things to learn—about ourselves, and about others. While this book will not teach you how to have sex, you will learn about what mo- tivates others in their sexual desires, whether to engage in mul- tiple relationships, perform sex work, come out as bisexual, build

increasingly advanced vibrators, or more.

I think it’s safe to say that whether this is the first book about sex you’ve ever read or the thousandth, you will learn something about what makes people tick, about sexual desire and sexual com- munity. The latter is as important to me as the former, because it’s within the community of sex writers, educators and activists that I’ve carved out a place for myself as a bisexual, feminist, kinky sex writer. Lori Selke writes in her open letter, “Dear John,” about feeling disillusioned by the judgments being passed around her local leather community: “See, my kinky leather identity grew firmly out of my queerness and my feminism. All three of those elements are important and in some ways inseparable. It’s impor- tant to me to pursue the sort of social justice that ensures that our consensual relationships are someday entered into from a place of roughly equal societal power. Without that aim, we’re simply perpetuating oppression.” I suspect many people aren’t aware of just how committed to their ideals those in the kink and leather communities are. To assume it’s all about whips, chains, bondage and spanking is to miss the point—of course it’s about those things, but it’s also about much more.

BOOK: Best Sex Writing 2013: The State of Today's Sexual Culture
10.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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